myASPRIA Contributor Nils Courcy undertook the perilous exercise of defining male beauty in modern fitness in the present day.
Today’s man is well-groomed and proud of it. The modern male is now abandoning the weight room and signing up for activities that were long considered to be a female preserve: yoga, stretching, bodystep, bums and tums, bodyart, body balance, pilates, ballet, etc.
Conversely, certain physical attributes, quintessential symbols of virility, power and protection, are no longer the exclusive prerogative of men. Preconceived ideas, such as “he must be strong” and “she must be beautiful”, are being swept aside with the breakdown of genres. And without exaggeration, there is no denying that today some women have more physical stamina and are more resilient than many men.
Female emancipation is daunting for the male sex and is changing the rules of the game in terms of social roles. Machismo is on the decline and our new androgynous society has a different vision of the man of today. Male beauty is becoming more complex to understand and its borders with female beauty are blurring. Masculinity is gradually being permeated by femininity. The last straw for the ‘stronger sex’!
The Apollo of modern times
I have frequently met men tormented by a deep identity crisis within their relationship: “My wife wants me to be manly, muscular, a bit of a bad-boy, but also demands that I be groomed, elegant or even sophisticated.” It is a common observation that, over and beyond a destabilising psychological effect on some men, this questioning of their allegedly male prerogatives could strongly affect their testosterone production, the sex hormone that is fundamental for libido, energy and general health.
Male identity, undermined by the current redefinition of genres, is undoubtedly being reconstructed through new standards of beauty, standards that do not necessarily comply with the ideal of ‘Greek beauty’ frozen in time by the ubiquitous statues of Apollo: perfectly symmetrical facial features, protruding and well-proportioned muscles and a form of natural grace insinuated by the perfect harmony.
But what is the real face of the Apollo of modern times assiduously roaming the gyms? After interviewing the females in the corridors, it seems that women have a rather cryptic take on male beauty, defining it as “a general appearance” or reducing it to important details such as “elegant hands, deep eyes, beautiful skin, a manly beard, a groomed look” etc. Some even emphasise the importance of “intriguing imperfections” that they claim exude a certain charm. Indeed!
Most of the time we got a wholesale response: “Quite tall, a fairly broad frame, strong shoulders, reassuring arms, comfortable chest and well-rounded buttocks”. And even if the absolute must remains for 80% of them “well drawn abs” and the famous “six pack” (yes, that again!), a paradox sometimes emerges. Many of them crave love handles! In short these revelations generally refer to a relatively muscular body that tends to correspond to conventional standards of beauty.
Phew, that’s our aesthete reassured in his relentless cult of the body!
The ingredients of the magic formula
So what is the recipe for transforming these many aesthetic requirements into physical goals? While for the love handles the answer is easily found in any food with a high glycemic load such as soft drinks, confectionery, pasta, rice, bread, etc., it seems that the recipe for the perfect aesthetic is a little more complex, but far from impossible to achieve! Here are a few basic ingredients:
Concentrate on functional work
As we have seen, beauty is often synonymous with harmony. No more ‘bulking up’ and strictly ‘isolated’ workouts that can sometimes lead to unsightly asymmetries between body parts. The body is one and indivisible, and to develop overall body strength and well-proportioned athletic muscles, opt for complex movements respecting the natural body mechanics.